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What is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)?

What is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)?

Networks are essentially communication – a non-stop interaction between machines exchanging information. To guarantee the success, efficiency, and security of that communication is a complex task. It can’t really be compiled through the use of a single technology. Instead, a combination of protocols and tools is what makes it possible.

What is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)?

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a communication protocol used to protect data exchanged between a client and a server. It has a specific way for organizing the data to keep their integrity, from the moment they are sent and until they are delivered. It’s a popular protocol used on many networks and supported by applications and devices.

It’s worth mentioning that the TCP is used by most networks, combined with the Internet Protocol (IP). They are different protocols, but since their combination became the official standard for applications and devices to communicate over networks (TCP/IP) a long time ago, in the late 1970s, some don’t differentiate them anymore.

Just keep in mind these teammates complement each other, but each has its own functionality. The IP routes and addresses data packets (sender-recipient). TCP organizes and protects them.

How does the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) work?

First, TCP is a connection-oriented protocol. That means that to secure the data during their trip through the network (or networks), TCP requires an active connection between the sender and the recipient. And this connection has to keep active from the moment data are sent until they are delivered to complete the process successfully.

Then, when communication starts, the first action executed by TCP is to cut the message into packets. As a security measure to protect the integrity of the message, all packets get numbered by TCP and transferred to the IP layer after that for transporting them. 

It’s important to say that even all packets belonging to the same message, once cut in pieces, will not necessarily all travel together or follow the same route. They can move through different routers and gateways, and still, they all have to arrive at the same destination. 

Once they all hit this point (destination), TCP must reassemble all data packets to shape the original message that must be delivered to its recipient. Here, a process without problems should finish. But there can be issues, and TCP functionality is designed to react in case they arise. 

For instance, data packets can get disordered, duplicated, or lost during the process. TCP can detect and fix those types of problems. TCP will ask the packets that are missing to be sent again to re-organize them, re-order and deliver the message correctly. If the message definitely can’t be delivered, TCP will report the situation to the sender.

If you imagine the number of messages that are sent every minute, then cut in pieces by TCP, you can get an interesting image of how active and massive the transit of data packets is on every network. 

Advantages of the TCP.

  • It’s an open protocol. 
  • It’s a light protocol. Its presence doesn’t stress networks or devices.
  • It’s not dependent on the operating system.
  • It supports different protocols for routing, communication within a network, and different networks.

Disadvantages of the TCP.

  • It’s not a choice for LAN or PAN.
  • It has vulnerabilities. Cybercrime could take advantage. 


TCP can totally contribute to the safe exchange of data on your network. The right combination with other technologies can enhance it. 

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